Our municipality can help stop climate change

A resident’s comments.

My name is ER. I live in Guelph. I am writing to you because I am deeply concerned about climate change and the future of our earth. We have changed the basic chemistry of our planet and we are running out of time to avoid catastrophe.

In 2011 we emitted 31.6 Gigatons of carbon dioxide – a 3% increase over the year before. Scientists say we can now emit only 565 more Gigatons until we reach the 2°C limit established in Copenhagen in 2009. This gives us only 16 years to dramatically alter our course. We desperately need something to shake us out of our sense of complacency.

This is where you can help change the course of human history.

Our municipality can use its licensing powers to pass a by-law that requires gasoline retailers to place warning labels on gas pump nozzles. These labels would advise consumers of the harms associated with the consumption of fossil fuels and would be similar to those found on tobacco packaging. Please visit http://www.ourhorizon.org to learn more about the by-law and to get access to the legal opinion for our jurisdiction.

The warning labels link cause and effect right at the point of purchase. Their use on the nozzle takes a problem of diffuse origins and locates responsibility right in the palm of your hand. The image itself can bring far away consequences – like famine, extinction of species and extreme weather – into the here and now. The labels also internalize and communicate cost in a qualitative way to engage our sense of humanity in a way that a 10-cent price increase at the pump never could.

This idea is a game-changer. It’s the simple sticker that has the potential to change the world.

The labels will cause some citizens to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and, more importantly, they will shift our collective willingness to act on this issue and allow for meaningful change.

Passing this by-law will create a global precedent that will rapidly spread throughout the world. Years from now, historians may one day point to you, a handful of your brave colleagues, and our community as the spot that forever changed the course of human history.  ER

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1 Comment

Filed under Energy, Environment, Health

One response to “Our municipality can help stop climate change

  1. NL

    I agree, climate change is a big concern. One of the simplest things people can do to reduce their GHG emissions is stop idling. The City of Guelph has a 3 minute idling by-law and their own staff don’t even follow it. I see City vehicles “warming up” for over 10 minutes and it isn’t even winter yet. There are many towns in Canada with colder climates than Guelph, and they have anti-idling by-laws.

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